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Brian O'Doherty, 1928–2022, Patrick Ireland, 1972–2008

Small Glass Labyrinth (Bridget’s Cross)1967

The Labyrinth is an archetype in O’Doherty’s work, from his earliest mazes of 1967 to the current large-scale permanent Labyrinth under way on the Falls Road, Belfast. Labyrinths are also to be found in the games of chess which fascinated the artist since childhood. The moves of the chess pieces trace an invisible diagram that has a labyrinth-like quality. The artist’s familiarity with Joyce’s labyrinthine novels, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, was another source. His early mazes were the first minimal labyrinths in Conceptual art. Derived in part from the swastika-like form of St Brigid’s cross, Small Glass Labyrinth (Brigid’s Cross), 1967, is painted on mirrored glass, where the mirror has been removed, leaving the track of the labyrinth. Reflective slivers which remain at the edges of the track glisten as the viewer moves around the piece. In 1967-68 O’Doherty created numerous versions of labyrinths such as Blue Labyrinth, 1968. The much larger, related Vertical Labyrinth, 1967, also in a St Brigid’s cross form, floats on a transparent sheet of glass, over a mirror, in which the track of the labyrinth echoes endlessly downwards. O’Doherty created a conceptual labyrinth, Labyrinth as a Straight Line, 1967, which indicates the right and left turns along the line with the letters R and L, which necessitate 90º turns, a mental exercise in which knowledge pre-empts experience. Performed blindfolded, on a raised line, a plank, the piece is memorydependent.
It also recalls the semiotic-mimetic principle of his Structural Plays.

Dimensions Unframed, 30.48 x 30.48 cm
Unframed, 30.48 x 30.48 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Donation, Novak/O'Doherty Collection, 2015
Item NumberIMMA.3916
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Brian O'Doherty, Patrick Ireland, Small Glass Labyrinth (Bridget’s Cross), 1967, Glass, Unframed, 30.48 x 30.48 cm|Unframed, 30.48 x 30.48 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Donation, Novak/O'Doherty Collection, 2015

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

Brian O'Doherty

Brian O'Doherty 1928–2022

Brian O’Doherty was born in Ireland and moved to New York in 1957. A qualified medical doctor, O’Doherty became renowned as an artist, writer, television host, and educator. Consistently exploring the multiple nature of identity, he adopted various personae, notably 'Patrick Ireland', who was buried at IMMA in 2008. Major retrospectives of O’Doherty/Ireland’s work were held at the National Museum of American Art, Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane and the Grey Art Gallery, New York. Brian O'Doherty died at his apartment in Manhattan on Monday 7th of November 2022, at the age of 94.

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Patrick Ireland

Patrick Ireland 1972–2008

During the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1972, Brian O'Doherty, in a performance before 30 invited witnesses and assisted by artists Robert Ballagh and Brian King, undertook to sign his artworks Patrick Ireland 'until such time as the British military presence is removed from Northern Ireland'. After 36 years of making art as Patrick Ireland, O'Doherty reclaimed his birth name with the symbolic burial of his alter ego in the grounds of IMMA on the afternoon of Tuesday 20 May 2008.
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Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.